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5 great cycling routes in the French Alps

Home to the world famous Tour de France, biking enthusiasts travel from all over the world to test the challenging climbs and renowned cycling routes in the French Alps. However, cyclists of all levels will find no end of adventure when exploring the peaks, descents – and flatter valleys – of the French Alps on two wheels.

Read on to discover 5 of our favourite cycling routes in the French Alps…

1. Col de la Loze

Those looking for a challenge will find it climbing the Col de la Loze in The 3 Vallées, one of the high points of the 2020 Tour de France. With varying routes and climbs of up to 2304m, this is one of the toughest cycling routes in the French Alps and is not for the faint hearted!

There are four different routes you can take:
– The Discovery Loop
– The Large Loop
– Les Allues- Méribel to Col de la Loze
– Brides les Bains to Col de la Loze

For more information about the different routes available, take a look at the tourist office website.

Discover our selection of properties in the 3 Valleys


2. Col de la Colombière

Since 1960, the Col de la Colombière (1,613m) has featured in the Tour de France twenty times, so it’s no surprise that it ranks highly on the list of popular cycling routes in the French Alps! You can approach this route from the North or from the South, with each access varying in difficulty. Approaching from the North is the more testing option, setting off from Scionzier (near Cluses). From the South you will set off from Le Grand Bornand, cycling up through Chinaillon and navigating the final stretch via the windy roads up to the Col de la Colombière.

Please note this particular Col is only open from May until October.

With routes for all levels, the French Alps are an idyllic setting to explore by bike. Credit: Martin Magnemyr

3. The famed Col de la Croix-Fry

This route ticks all the boxes when it comes to picture perfect scenery. With the fantastic Lo Garajo in Manigod providing a popular stop for cyclists – it has a specialist bike stand as well as great coffee – you’ll enjoy incredible viewpoints of the Aravis Chain and surrounding area. The preferred route is from Thônes, up to Manigod village. After this, continuing up the winding road to the top of the Col de la Croix-Fry (1,467m). The descent heads down into La Clusaz and on to St Jean de Sixt, before returning to Thônes. There’s a great back road between St Jean and Thônes if you prefer to avoid traffic.

If you’re after a more adrenaline-fuelled biking experience, take a look at our recommended La Clusaz mountain biking trails.

Cycling routes in the French Alps: Competitors in the Tour de France
Some of the world’s greatest cyclists head up to the Col de la Croix Fry in the 105th edition of the Tour de France, 2018.

Discover hand-picked properties in La Clusaz


4. Tour de Roc d’Enfer

The keen cyclists on our team love the more advanced cycling routes in the French Alps, but there are also some great options for less experienced cyclists that still showcase the stunning backdrops of this region. The Tour de Roc d’Enfer is an intermediate route that sets off from Morzine and heads through St Jean D’Aulps, up the Col du Jambaz, through Megevette and then to the Col de la Ramaz, the hardest climb of this ride – so stock up on energy before you reach the Col! It then returns through picturesque Les Gets. The route takes around 3-4 hours to ride – it’s about 75km – but will give you a great sense of achievement!

No bike? No problem! Take a look at our recommended bike supplier in Morzine.

Cycling routes in the French Alps: A scenic mountains backdrop makes the uphill all worth it!
Take in the stunning views and experience the beauty of the mountains on one of the many incredible cycling routes in the French Alps.

 5. Lake Annecy

For those wanting a more leisurely ride, Lake Annecy is an absolute must. The majority of the circuit around the lake is flat (although the hill leaving Talloires – going anti-clockwise – is quite tough!) and there’s a dedicated cycle path for most of the way, making it a great choice for families! With beautiful villages along the way such as Menthon St Bernard and Talloires, you can pack a picnic and take a break at some gorgeous lakeside spots. If you’re really looking to lighten the load, why not try the increasingly popular e-biking? This is a fantastic option for beginners or those wanting a more gentle activity. If you’re heading to Annecy and want to branch out, then make sure to take a look at our blog about watersports on Lake Annecy.

Cycling is just one of the fantastic activities on offer in the French Alps. If you’re looking for more ideas of activities to fill your holiday itinerary, then check out our top spring activities in the Alps.

Amy Oliver About Author

Hi I’m Amy and I work on the Social Media Team at OVO Network. I have spent winters in the Alps since 2016 and I am now based in the beautiful town of Annecy. I love making the most of being surrounded by the lake and mountains with my dog!